For years now, Cagayan de Oro has been tagged as the adventure capital of the Philippines, mainly because of whitewater rafting. I must admit, though, that even if I am a true blue Kagay-anon and have lived here for years, I haven’t gone on a whitewater rafting adventure; not even once. But that’s my choice. I loved the water and swimming is an indispensable part of my life, but the rapids of the Cagayan de Oro River were just not my thing. I’ve programmed my whole system into not experiencing the kind of adventure my city has to offer. And I thought that was it.
But then, a couple of weeks ago, my fellow bloggers and I were invited by the Sierra del Oro management to experience a different kind of adventure. I was hesitant at first, but as I was determined to try out something new, I decided to make a go of it.
Sierra del Oro is a 68-hectare property that sits atop the hills of Indahag. It overlooks the whole city and the view is breathtaking, especially at night. Anyway, the place is being developed as an adventure park. The major attraction, however, is something new to Kagay-anons: paragliding.
For those who are not yet that familiar with paragliding, here’s a simple description lifted from Wikipedia: “Paragliding is the recreational and competitive adventure sport of flying paragliders: lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircraft with no rigid primary structure. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing comprising a large number of interconnected baffled cells. Wing shape is maintained by the suspension lines, the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing, and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside.”
Since paragliding requires skill and knowledge about things like wind velocity and direction, Sierra del Oro offers tandem paragliding. So instead of you flying alone, you will be accompanied by a certified/licensed paraglider who will act as your pilot. In other words, you simply take your seat and watch the view as you fly over CDO. (All of Sierra del Oro’s pilots are well-trained, certified, and are members of the Philippine Association of Paragliders & Instructors and the Northern Mindanao Paragliding Club, among others.)
Flying Over CDO
The minute we arrived at Sierra del Oro, my excitement (and curiosity) peaked at its highest levels. I was excited and curious, yes; but I also found myself asking teeny-weeny questions like, “Should I really do this?” and “Am I supposed to do this at 48 years old?” But when we were told how beautiful it was up there and how calming the experience was, I decided to go for it.
I wasn’t able to fly the first time I went there because of several factors, the most important being the wind velocity and direction. Paragliding relies a lot on the wind, so flying would be quite difficult if there was no wind. Anyway, on our second visit, I was finally able to fly. And, boy, what an experience it was!
Before flying, my pilot, who happened to be Southeast Asian Games gold medalist for paragliding, Sir Buko, briefed me on what to do. I paid attention so I’d know when to “walk, stop, and run”, as well as when to sit down once we were flying. I was also told that all I had to do was follow his instructions and once we were up in the air, all I needed to do was sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.
After two false starts (wind problems), we finally took off. I did not feel any fear or hesitation the moment sir Buko said “Run!”. I just ran and seconds later I was already flying! It was a totally surreal feeling being on top of the city you love. I saw trees and houses below me. I saw majestic Macajalar Bay. I saw a lot of beautiful sights. I saw the clear blue sky and I felt like I was one with it.
You want to know how I felt the whole time we were flying? I felt free. Totally free! Oh, I was excited, too; especially when sir Buko gave me the chance to pilot! I actually maneuvered the paraglider! Of course, sir Buko gave me instructions and I followed him to the T. But, yes, I did the “turn right, turn left, and hover” thing and I was ecstatic! It was surreal!
We landed smoothly on the dirt road, which is actually a part of the road that leads to Sierra del Oro.
I don’t have fear of heights, but I do choose which stairs or ladders I climb. I don’t like rickety, uneven steps because they make me feel out-of-balance. I don’t like looking down from above because it makes me dizzy. But when I went on the paraglider and flew, I felt no fear at all. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I wish I could show you the GoPro video of my flight, but I haven’t had the chance to get a copy from Sierra del Oro yet. I do have a video taken by one of my blogger-friends, Jenjacqs. It doesn’t show my complete flight, but at least it will give you an idea of what paragliding is like. Here it is:
My friend, Rob, also has a video of my landing. You can watch it here:
As previously mentioned, Sierra del Oro is being developed as an adventure park/resort. So aside from paragliding, you can also try out their hanging ropes course and their zipline. At present, there are two short ziplines, but a longer one is in construction. Likewise, the hanging ropes course will have a version for kids and for toddlers.
Here’s a video of my zipline experience:
The Sierra del Oro swimming pool is in the works right now. It will be completed right in time for the CDO fiesta in August.
With all these developments, Sierra del Oro is definitely poised to become the adventure hotspot of Cagayan de Oro. So if I were you, I’d go and visit the place soon. If you aren’t sure yet about paragliding, you can try out the zipline and the hanging ropes. You can enjoy the good food at Hugo Skye Lounge, too. Or, you can go there to marvel at the breathtaking view (especially at sunset)!
But a Sierra del Oro experience won’t be complete if you don’t paraglide. At Php2,500 per person, the rate is cheaper by at least 50% compared to the paragliding packages offered in Luzon and other destinations. Or you can go for group bookings and you just might get a discount. Sierra del Oro is actually open for team building events.
Sierra del Oro is located on the hills of Indahag. It can be accessed via the Macasandig-Mandumol-Aluba route, or from Camaman-an passing through the Bolonsori Diversion Road. There are signs along the way, so it will be easy to find the private access road to the place. It’s quite easy to go to Sierra del Oro; you can even take a cab and get there safely!
For bookings and inquiries, you can contact 088-8511800 or 0917-3261800.
Happy flying, Kagay-anons!